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The African Development Bank (AfDB) began the first of a series of five regional consultations with African civil society on August 31, 2016 in Dakar. Sixty people, members of West African civil society and AfDB representatives, took part in this three-day meeting.
“Regional consultations with civil society are aimed at strengthening mechanisms to assist the Bank in its development programme,” stated the AfDB’s Acting Resident Representative to Senegal.
“We need the involvement of African civil society,” continued Adalbert Nshimyumuremyi, Chief Country Economist, who led the opening ceremony alongside representatives of civil society and managers from the Bank responsible for these issues. According to Nshimyumuremyi, “the Bank’s new approach provides for closer collaboration with African civil society,” with the goal of achieving the institution’s Ten Year Strategy.
The AfDB has identified five development priorities for its activities over the next ten years – Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa – through creating jobs for the vast majority of its population, its youth.
Collaboration between the Bank and African civil society, “will help save money and reach the most remote populations,” said Noel Kulemeka, Division Head for Gender and Civil Society at the AfDB, during a speech at the Dakar consultation’s opening ceremony.
Describing the Bank’s five priorities, also referred to as the High 5s, Kulemeka emphasised that “more than 640 million Africans do not have access to electricity, while 700 million do not have access to clean energy.” He invited West African civil society to join with the Bank in taking on this challenge.
As for other priorities, the Division Head for Gender and Civil Society underlined the transformation of African agriculture. “Although it has 65% of the world’s arable land, Africa imports over US $35 billion worth of food each year,” he lamented during this regional consultation with members of civil society from West African countries.
He added that the AfDB is “ready to strengthen its collaboration with civil society as part of its Ten Year Strategy …We need your skills, your knowledge, the communication strategies you’ve developed for reaching rural populations,” he continued, stating that the AfDB has “shifted into high gear to work with civil society.”
For their part, representatives of civil society were thrilled to have the opportunity for this regional dialogue. Several speakers appreciated in particular the Bank’s interest in learning more about African civil society organisations.
Following the opening ceremony, discussions began between the participants and AfDB representatives, including several managers in attendance.
Regional consultations between the Bank and civil society are aimed at strengthening partnerships and collaboration to help the institution achieve its development programme.
A total of five workshops will be held for the regional economic communities in Africa in the last four months of 2016.
According to the concept note explaining the organisation of these consultations beyond the Dakar meetings, other regional consultations will be held in Tunisia from September 14 to 16, in Cameroon from September 28 to 30, and in South Africa from November 14 to 16. The final regional consultation will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from November 30 to December 2, 2016.
These regional consultations will help raise awareness and arrive at consensus on how to implement and use the comparative advantages of civil society organisations.